Monday, March 24, 2014

Know Someone Struggling With Addiction? Join the Conversation April 2 at Saint Anselm

A little more than a month ago I posted on Facebook about a movie, "The Anonymous People," asking if anyone out there would lobby to bring it to New Hampshire. 

I have seen too many people lose their lives to drugs and alcohol, watched too many families crumble. I have heard the stories about the juggling act between urgency and insurance protocols that limit possibilities for those who want out. 

We all know someone.

Friend Loretta Brady saw my post and said that if I did the lobbying, she'd see about making it happen.

Guess what? It's happening!

You are invited to attend this free public screening, April 2, 2014 at Saint Anselm College, 100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester, NH.

Link here for complete event information on Saint Anselm College website.

Why this matters

Get the story behind "The Anonymous People"  via filmmaker Greg Williams' kickstarter page (watch the clip below). From that humble beginning, Williams created a documentary aiming to change the conversation around the need for more avenues leading to long-term recovery for drug addicts and alcoholics, and the need to step out of the shadows of anonymity and share the stories of success among those living in long-term recovery.

Click here for more on "The Anonymous People," at Many Faces, 1 Voice.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Entrepreneurial Spirits: The Magic of Djinn

Open House at Djinn Spirits in Nashua is March 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Andy and Cindy Harthcock, owners of Djinn Spirits distillery in Nashua, NH.

By Carol Robidoux

First things first. 

Djinn is another word for an ancient spirit with genie-like powers. The "d" is silent, which is why Andy and Cindy Harthcock settled on "Djinn Spirits" as the perfect name for their brand new gin and whiskey distillery, located just off Amherst Street, in Nashua, NH.

"I especially loved that it's a triple entendre," said Andy Harthcock, who put nearly as much care into naming his business as he does in creating each unique batch of spirits.
Andy Harthcock designed the still used to make Djinn Spirits.

Aside from the joy of word play, there is the intrigue of a genie unleashed from her bottle, which doubles as their logo. It's an idea which comes close to capturing how it feels to unleash a signature line of spirits in a small but growing niche business, namely the craft distillery. 

Secondly, consider the Latin root of the word djinn – genius – which pertains to the enjoyment of life and "the spirit of social enjoyment," particularly fondness for good living, taste, appetite and inclinations.

And not the least of considerations for the Harthcocks is that there's something truly magical about the start-to-finish process of turning murky malt mash into a smooth, potent liquor.

It's a process that Andy Harthcock explains with the precision of a computer engineer – which he is by vocation – and the finesse of an artist, a role he embraces fully, as integral to the art of distillery.

He explains how, after running his home-brewed beer through the still in 150-gallon batches, the resulting 100-proof "white dog whiskey" – akin to moonshine – ages for two to four weeks in white oak barrels.

"It's magical, what a charred barrel does to spirits," says Andy Harthcock.

More magical than, say, fermenting cheese, or slow-drying pig flesh, two things which almost happened, says Harthcock, as he sought to develop a viable side business that could eventually become his full-time passion.

The same still is used to make whiskey and gin.
"I knew I wanted to do something fun, and take advantage of my engineering skills. At first, we made some cheese. But cheese didn't excite me. Then, we considered meat, as in jerky. You know, there's actually a name for that industry, charcuterie – but again, it felt like there were already so many people doing that, and it just didn't excite me. Then one night my wife was reading up on craft distilleries and said, off-handedly, 'Hey, that would be fun.' By the time she got home from work the next night I had successfully made my first baby still out of her pressure cooker," said Harthcock.

Andy Harthcock pours a taste of Beat 3 whiskey.
Since opening in December, he's kept his day job with a defense contractor in Merrimack, NH, and his wife still works as a nurse. But they devote nights and weekends to Djinn Spirits – from perfecting and tweaking the small batch ingredients, to making connections, marketing, fine-tuning their five-year plan and welcoming weekend walk-in customers for impromptu tours and tastings.

Harthcock also will book private tours and tastings, and is open to special personalized on-site events. He looks forward to whiskey and gin appreciation classes, for those who have never learned the fine art and complexity of swilling high-end spirits.

Djinn's Beat 3 White Dog white whiskey retails for $25 per bottle. The name is a nod to Cindy Harthcock's heritage, growing up in a dry Mississippi town – the Beat 3 voting district –  where the best kept secret was the smooth, white lightning-hot moonshine underground. 

Djinn's signature gin is high caliber, at $30 a bottle. But this is where the crafting comes in, as the Harthcock's have labored over a secret blend of botanicals, including juniper and grains-of-paradise with a twist citrus, resulting in a delicate yet potent gin.

Because alcohol manufacturing and sales are highly regulated, Djinn's products are not available at state liquor stores – yet. Twice a month they send in federal reports and tax forms, a process also necessary for state officials here in New Hampshire. 

In the meantime, everyone's invited to Djinn's March 8 open house event, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring tours, tastings, prizes and giveaways at the distillery, located at 2 Townsend West, Suite 9, in Nashua, in a small industrial park behind Country Tavern.

For a preview of the tour, click the video below. For more information, find Djinn Spirits online, and click here to follow them on Facebook, or contact the Harthcock's at, or 617.649.6972.